discipleship, God's sovereignty and goodness, grace, spiritual growth, the gospel, Uncategorized

blooming fruit

This past week I have been in Chicago with Greg and Rick and Teresa Dunn for the Gospel Coalition conference, and then I trecked over to Memphis for Tiffany and Chris Leuck’s wedding. It has been a FULL week, but it has been a blessing.
As I looked out at my backyard this morning, I noticed that growth exploded all over it–from an 8 ft poison ivy vine to new grass to old grass that is shaggy:). In one week’s time, everything has changed. What was once cold, brown and bare for months is now teeming with life and growth.

As I thought on that, I remembered the wedding this weekend. I began discipling Tiffany a little over a year and a half ago. She was extremely new in the faith not really understanding what all had happened to her. I was learning how to do this discipleship stuff, and in essence, we learned to walk together. As the last few months have passed, I have seen such wisdom and growth in Tiff. She began leading others in the fall, and is always reaching out to others. The word (the Bible) comes from her lips and is transforming her heart and relationships. Even on Easter, she was in a video which clearly articulated her testimony to the glory of God. This was your typical party girl who looked for life and meaning in everything but Jesus…dead in her transgressions. Our precious Savior, raised her to life and gave her a new heart, put his Spirit in her, gave her new eyes and ears, gave her new desires, and presented her with hope now and in eternity with Christ.

Mary Claire, Jen, Leah and Jenny
Mary Claire, Jen, Leah and Jenny

As I sat at the rehearsal dinner, I looked on Chris who had been saved from himself in Christ about a year before Tiffany. I heard their friends speak of how their relationships with Chris and Tiff–the conversations about Christ and their love had been used by the Spirit to awaken them to salvation. These were lives that had seen an about face in the last few years–I am sure it was confusing to those who had known them all their lives. The gospel was clearly proclaimed at the rehearsal dinner…I was a teary mess. I got to witness Chris’ dad speak about both of his boys who had repented and come to Christ in the last few years–we are talking miraculous, no hope situations. His parents had shown grace and prayed and trusted through some VERY dismal heartbreaking times with their sons. Of course, that led me to greater tears as I thought what joy was in his parent’s hearts as they thought about God’s faithfulness.
Now, as I think about the explosion of growth in my backyard, I think about the fruit God has brought in these lives–not just salvation but sanctification…discipleship of others, and the hope of glorification in the end with Christ forever. Sometimes in the Christian subculture you are innoculated to the desperate need for Christ. For some reason, we think it is something we have done instead of the sole work of Christ graciously bringing us to life. We forget the gospel, and we live a life of sanitized works. Yuck. Yet, there was urgency in the room with those who had come to Christ because they know the old life quite well…they delight in the opportunity to share the good news. That was the greatest gift to me this weekend–to see that.
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The privilege of meeting good friends of theirs that I had heard of and maybe known to say hi was coupled with deep conversations and love in the body. I am physically exhausted this week, but I am full of joy that God has given me the privilege of walking with Tiff and Chris. May the Lord bless their ministry in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi.
I am reminded that there may be times that look dismal and dead and like the winter with no buds or growth. However, with God, nothing is impossible–that means no person is an impossibility for his grace to awaken. Months and years of pouring into someone and entrusting them to Christ when it looks like winter will one day possibly have the shoots of spring and the explosion of summer. I am sure Chris’ parents prayed and prayed and loved and spoke truth to their sons in many a winter. This is a picture of trusting God and not giving up. This is a picture of remembering his faithfulness.
Jesus said “I am the Vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing.” John 15:5
“The One who calls us is faithful and he will do it!” 1 Thessalonians 5:24

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